March 30, 2011
Have you ever had a recipe that makes you do things. Weird things – like finding excuses to wander into the kitchen, just so you can sneak into the fridge and quickly dip your finger in some barbeque sauce.
I don’t usually make a habit of sticking my appendages into condiments, but this barbeque sauce is creating bad habits in me. Its smokey, sweet goodness keeps calling to me, making me wonder at the possibilities it creates.
Grilled barbeque chicken, ribs, pulled pork and chicken sandwiches, the possibilities are endless. This sauce will make you wish summer was already here, just so you can
whip out the charcoal and grill up something to slather this stuff on.
Or you could just eat it off your fingers – like me.
Amazing Barbeque Sauce
(prep: 10 min; cook: 20 min; yield: 2 cups)
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
- 2 tsp. hickory-flavored liquid smoke
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 clove fresh garlic, minced
- 1/4 tsp. onion powder
- 1/8 tsp. chili powder (optional)
- 1/2 tsp. paprika
- 1/8 tsp. celery seed
- 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, mix the ketchup, tomato sauce, brown sugar, wine vinegar, molasses, liquid smoke, and butter.
2. Add the garlic powder, fresh garlic, onion powder, chili powder, paprika, celery seed, cinnamon, salt and pepper.
3. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20-30 minutes. For a thicker sauce simmer the full time, and if you prefer a thinner sauce, less time is needed. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Tip: This sauce tastes very vinegary while cooking, don't worry though, make sure you allow the sauce to simmer for about 20-30 minutes, and it will mellow out and develop a really great depth of flavor. Of course, if you like your sauce tangy, then simmer for less time to suit your own tastes:)
This barbeque sauce is great as a final glaze to grilled meat. For pulled pork or pulled chicken sandwiches, just add a little water to thin the sauce out a bit. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com
March 27, 2011
The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hostedby Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.
I had a lot of fun with the challenge this month, since I’ve never made a yeasted coffee cake before. While, some people are afraid of working with yeast, it has always held a certain form of fascination for me.
Perhaps, being the granddaughter of a baker, I’ve been bitten by the bug. More likely, the kid in me just likes sticking my hands in a big ball of sticky goo.
I also wanted to try my hand at practicing some pastry making technique’s, and decided to form the dough into a braided coffee cake. While it may look tricky, it is really simple, and just takes a little practice to get the form even.
My first try at this style isn’t perfect, but it turned out fairly decent – at least in my opinion. If you think otherwise – please don’t burst my bubble
Part of this challenge was to use your own creativity for the filling, and while I had many crazy ideas swirling around in the gray matter of my brain, I decided on a cherry and cream cheese filled treat. While I wanted to use fresh cherries, I had to settle on cherry pie filling, since I couldn't find any fresh ones locally. It turned out pretty tasty anyway!
Cherry Crunch Coffee Cake
(prep: 3 hours: bake: 30 min; yield: two coffee cakes)
Note: This recipe can be easily halved to make one coffee cake (which I did).
For the yeast coffee cake dough:
4 cups (600 g / 1.5 lbs.) flour
¼ cup (55 g / 2 oz.) sugar
¾ teaspoon (5 g / ¼ oz.) salt
1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons / 7 g / less than an ounce) active dried yeast
¾ cup (180 ml / 6 fl. oz.) whole milk
¼ cup (60 ml / 2 fl. oz. water (doesn’t matter what temperature)
½ cup (135 g / 4.75 oz.) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 large eggs at room temperature
For the meringue:
3 large egg whites at room temperature
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup (110 g / 4 oz.) sugar
For the filling:
8-oz cream cheese, softened
3 tbsp butter, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 can cherry pie filling
1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)
For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp almond extract
Prepare the dough:
1. In a large electric mixing bowl, combine 1 ½ cups (230 g) of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast.
2. In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted.
3. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended.
Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. Add the eggs and 1 cup (150 g) flour and beat for 2 more minutes.
4. Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface (use any of the 1 ½ cups of flour remaining) and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding extra flour as needed.
5. Place the dough in a lightly greased (I use vegetable oil) bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise until double in bulk, 45 – 60 minutes. The rising time will depend on the type of yeast you use.
Prepare your filling:
In an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla until creamy. Set aside.
Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue:
In a clean mixing bowl – ideally a plastic or metal bowl so the egg whites adhere to the side (they slip on glass) and you don’t end up with liquid remaining in the bottom – beat the egg whites with the salt, first on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high and continue beating until foamy and opaque. Add the vanilla then start adding the ½ cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.
Assemble the Coffee Cakes:
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
1. Punch down the dough and divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, working one piece of the dough at a time (keep the other half of the dough wrapped in plastic), roll out the dough into a 14 x 12-inch rectangle.
2. Using a pizza cutter or knife, lightly score the rectangle into thirds lengthways. Now make diagonal slices, to make strips on the two outer thirds sections, about every 1/2 inch. Carefully cut away the top strips on the top and bottom.
3. Spread half of the meringue evenly over the center third (the section between the strips you just cut). Spread some of the cream cheese mixture over the meringue. Now spread a layer of the cherry pie filling. Sprinkle some nuts over everything.
4. Now fold down the top and bottom flap, then start folding the side strips over the filling. Right, then left, right again, etc, all the way to the bottom.
5. Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and fillings.
6. Slip your hands under the pastry, and carefully transfer it to the lined baking sheet. Cover the 2 coffee cakes with plastic wrap and allow them to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
7. Brush the tops of the coffee cakes with the egg wash. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped.
8.Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheets onto the table. Very gently loosen the coffee cakes from the paper with a large spatula and carefully slide the cakes off onto cooling racks. Allow to cool.
Just before serving, dust the tops of the coffee cakes with confectioner’s sugar, or drizzle with almond glaze. These are best eaten fresh, the same day or the next day.
March 24, 2011
Does the process of posting on your blog make you want to pull out your hair? How about trying to upload your photos and get everything spaced and lined up right? I’ve spent countless hours trying to fix layout problems, and lamenting on my lost picture quality, when using Blogger to write posts and upload photos.
I’ve recently started using Windows Live Writer (thanks to the fabulous suggestion of Jenni from The Story of My Life), and let me tell you, blogging is no longer a hassle! What used to take me a couple of hours to get just right, now takes me about 30 minutes.
For those of you on Wordpress, don’t worry, Windows Live Writer is compatible with your platform too.
Lucky for me, this program came already downloaded on my computer. You may already have it too, but if not you can download it for free here. I don’t believe that WLW is compatible with a Mac, but for those of you using a Mac, I would suggest using Photobucket or Flickr to upload pictures to your blog.
For those on Blogger, if you don’t want to use Windows Live Writer, I would also suggest you to use Photobucket or Flickr to upload your blog pictures. Both of these hosting sites will give you better picture quality than Blogger. Here is a tutorial for using Photobucket to upload photos to your blog.
Using Windows Live Writer
You have two options to upload photos to WLW:
1. Upload photos directly from your computer (using the insert button under the Picture icon, or the Insert tab).
2. Upload photos from the web, e.g Photobucket or Flickr (using the insert button the Picture icon, or the Insert tab).
Note: If you want to upload pictures from Flickr, you will need to download the Flickr4Writer plug in.
Uploading photos directly to WLW from your computer, allows you a wide range of customizable options– like adding borders, shadows, tilt, or even your own watermark. You can also add picture effects or make a few edits (sharpen, contrast, etc.) Be careful, if you’ve already edited your photo in another editing software, you don’t want to overdo it.) The best part, you can make the picture any size you want. Just select the photo, and either drag the picture to the size you want, or you can set specific dimensions.
I’ve added a watermark here
Or tilt your pictures and add a shadow border like this
Play around with the font, which gives you the option to use any font downloaded on your computer - like some of these free custom fonts I downloaded from Kevin & Amanda.
I love these fonts!
A little pot
Note: Just a word of advice, at tempting as it may be, try to avoid making your entire post in one of these custom fonts. You want your post to be easily readable, and if a reader has trouble making out what you’ve written, you’ve lost them.
These are just some of the creative things you can do with WLW, so does that have you curious to try it out? Go on, once you get the hang of it, you’ll never go back to the old way again
March 22, 2011
I promised that I would post the recipe for the Apple Pie Bread that I ruined the other day,so I’m following through – sort of.
I didn’t want to make another bread, so I decided to adapt the theme into muffins. These muffins are moist, tender, and topped with a crunchy streusel nut topping.
Instead of shredding all of the apple like the bread recipe calls for, I combined the shredded apple with some diced apple. I think I like the texture of the diced apple better, so next time I would do all diced apple.
Adding a swirl of the cinnamon streusel inside the muffins would be great too!
Now when I make muffins, I’m a domed muffin snob. Give me a mile high, fluffy muffin over the flat variety any day. The secret of making sky-scraping muffins has eluded me for a long time, but I recently learned a few tricks that have paid off.
1. Fill your muffin tins full. Not 1/2 way, not 2/3 way. TO THE TOP. Filling only 1/2 to 2/3 full is not enough batter to give you a high-domed muffin. Your recipe that yields 12 regular muffins may only make nine or ten high-domed muffins. If so, fill any empty tins half full with water.
2. You need a thick batter. If you fill your tin with a thin batter, it will flow all over your oven before setting. Your batter should be “spoonable” not pourable.
3. Get your oven hot! I’m talking 425F. Preheat the oven to 425F, then when your muffins have been in for about 5 minutes, reduce the temperature to 375F. If you leave the temperature high, the muffins will bake too quickly, and may become crusty. This initial high temperature will create a burst of steam, which will cause the muffin tops to lift and set.
That’s it! Once you have these tricks under your belt, you’ll never go back to flat muffins again.
Apple Pie Streusel Muffins
prep: 15 min; bake: 25 min; yield: 12 muffins
- 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons low fat plain yogurt
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 3-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 1-1/2 cups shredded or diced apple (peeled and cored)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2-3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
2. For the Streusel: In a small bowl combine the 1/4 brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Using a fork cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the chopped nuts, set aside.
3. In a medium bowl combine the flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.
4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the milk, sugars, yogurt, oil, eggs, vanilla,baking powder, salt and baking soda.
5. Fold in flour, stirring just until incorporated. Gently fold in the apples.
6. Divide the batter between 12 muffin tins, making sure each one is filled to the top.
7. Sprinkle the streusel topping over each muffin.
8. Bake for 5 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 375F and continue baking for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
March 17, 2011
"Mommy, I really need some quiet time today."
I tried to hide my grin and smother my chuckle, and went on my way thinking nothing of it. A little while later, he comes to me and says:
"Mommy, I need a bath".
O.K, now I'm starting to think something is weird. I tell myself that if he starts asking for green vegetables and a nap, I know I'm losing it.
I think the weather has affected him. We had 70 degree weather a few days ago, which turned into pouring rain and hail yesterday, and now it is snowing today. I feel like I've stepped into the twilight zone, although everyone who lives in the Ozarks will tell you, if you don't like the weather - just wait 5 minutes and it will change. Let me tell you, after 10 years of living here I've found this to be absolutely true.
What do all of these random things have to do with food you say? Nothing really:) Except that each of these out-of-the-ordinary events led me to make this tasty recipe. Chocolate Chip Streusel Bread.
So, with the patience of a saint, I began working on another loaf. I was so mad at myself for ruining my first bread, that I decided to experiment with the ingredients and came up with this Chocolate Chip Streusel Bread. It turned out really good, and I love the combination of the crunchy streusel with the chocolate chip bread.
Don't worry though, I promise to post (a successful) Apple Pie Bread soon:)
Chocolate Chip Streusel Bread
prep: 35 mins bake: 1 hour servings: 14 slices
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 milk buttermilk
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp butter
1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and 3 tbsp of flour. Using a fork or your fingers, cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the 1/3 cup of chopped nuts. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed for 30 seconds. Beat in sugar until combined. Add the buttermilk and baking powder; beat until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla; beat until combined. Add the flour, cinnamon and salt; beat until combined. Now stir in the chocolate chips and nuts.
4. Spoon the batter into the greased pan, and spread evenly. Sprinkle the Streusel topping over the batter.
5. Bake for 60 to 65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully remove from pan, and cool completely on wire rack.
March 12, 2011
But a blog post is also put out there, very publicly, and if no-one acknowledges it, it can feel a little like being the last kid picked in gym class. That's why I always try to make time to comment back on each blog that has graciously visited mine. Sometimes I don't always make it through the whole list...a husband, a 4-year old, a puppy and life sometimes have to take precedence, but I do try:)
I recently received two Stylish Blogger Awards, one from Swanky Pear, and the other from Vanilla Clouds and Lemon Drops. Thank you so much!
The Terms for Excepting The Award are:
Thank and link back to the person who gave you the award. Share Seven things about yourself. Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers. Contact the bloggers and tell them about the award.
Here Are My 7 Things:
1. My favorite part of a loaf of bread is the end pieces. I love making toast from the first end slice.
2. I detest doing laundry. In my younger (less responsible) days, I've been known to buy new clothes, rather than have to wash the ones I have. :)
3. I am a classical pianist.
4. I love to take a hot bath when it's raining. The rain pattering against the windows is very relaxing to me.
5. I'm still a little scared that if I go too deep in the ocean, Jaws will get me.
6. I spent a year traveling through every state in the U.S, (except California).
7. I once washed my hair in the rain, it wasn't very effective.
Another big thank you goes to Cheryl and Adam at Picture Perfect Meals, for awarding me the
Lovely Blog Award!
There are so many wonderful blogs that I've come across, but here are my picks to pass along BOTH awards:) Again, thank you for the love!
2. Cake Duchess
3. Simply Scratch
4. Steph's Bite by Bite
5. Cafe Ina
6. Blog Is The New Black
7. A Spicy Perspective
8. The Cilantropist
9. In Katrina's Kitchen
10. Scarletta Bakes
11. Pass The Sushi
12. Foodies at Home
13. Baking Without A Box
14. Savour The Senses
15. Creatively Domestic
Update: A big thanks to The Cultural Dish for passing along the Sisterhood of the World Blogger's Award :)
March 9, 2011
A few weeks ago, I received an email letting me know about a new food product line called Kidfresh. After reading about the product, my healthy-conscious-mommy-brain was intrigued.
Here was a line of frozen meals, touted to be developed for the busy parent who wants to have something quick, affordable AND healthy to serve their children.
The Kidfresh line is minimally processed, and contains NO artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. For entrees that contain meat, they only use meat that was raised without antibiotics - an added bonus for me. I almost forgot. Each Kidfresh meal also has a half cup serving of vegetables hidden in there.
So with all of this promising information, I decided to give it a try. I was a bit skeptical that if something is too good to be true, it usually is. I mean, how could something that is healthy and frozen taste good? I was soon to find out, as I embarked on a 4 day long taste test with one picky 4 year old.
The plan was simple: 4 Meals in 4 Days. The product line makes 6 different meals: Easy Cheesy Ravioli, Wagon Wheels Mac & Cheese, Spaghetti Loops Bolognese, Totally Twisted Pasta & Meatballs, Rainbow Rice & Chicken, and Muy Cheesy Quesadillas. I was sent the first 4 meals listed.
Easy Cheesy Ravioli: This meal came attractively packaged, with graphics that would appeal to a kid. We all know how an effectively packaged food can capture our child's interest. (Example: Those pesky boxes of sugary cereal, conveniently located at your child's eye level, and plastered with favorite cartoon characters and movie themes.)
O.K, so it looks good...but does it taste good? I followed the simple directions, microwaved for a couple of minutes, and anxiously placed my offering before my kid. I have included some photos of his first taste. The verdict? He LIKED it! I sampled a bite myself, so I could offer a second opinion, and it was indeed quite good.
I began to study the ingredient list, to see if it was really as healthy as it claimed. I hate when a company advertises their food as healthy, but when you read the ingredient list you are let down. Come on people, I'm not stupid, I know that if I can't read or pronounce your ingredient...it's NOT healthy! Well, imagine my pleasant surprise to find a short list of ingredients, and each ingredient was in fact natural.
So Day One was a success, and I began to look forward to trying out the other meals. So did my son in fact - since I found him sitting in his room later that day, with another Kidfresh meal, attempting to open and eat it. That should say something:)
Wagon Wheels Mac & Cheese: This mac and cheese did not disappoint. The wagon wheel shaped noodles were fun and my son loved them - although he called it waffle mac and cheese - he thought the noodles looked like waffles. The sauce was smooth, creamy and had good flavor.
Spaghetti Loops Bolognese: Move over Spaghettio's, you have some competition. These spaghetti loops tasted just as good as the other big name brand, but without any HFCS or other gross ingredients. Oh yeah, and there are sweet potatoes and carrots hidden in there. I'm loving this convenient way to get some extra veggies in my son's diet.
Totally Twisted Pasta & Meatballs: This was your standard pasta and meatballs. Rotini pasta in a veggie rich tomato sauce, served with mini meatballs. Again, a short ingredient list with the great hidden veggies.
So here are the facts in a nutshell:
~ No artificial ingredients, flavors, colors, or preservatives
~ 1 half cup of vegetables per serving
~ Meat raised without Antibiotics
~ BPA Free + Phthalate free
~ Green Packaging
After sampling these products and seeing my son's enthusiastic response, I feel confident that I've finally found a convenient, healthy meal option to serve my child. While I continue to try to make meals from scratch as much as possible, there are just some days when it doesn't happen. It's nice to have a convenient meal I can quickly serve my son, and not feel guilty about trading nutrition for convenience.
For more information about this product line, visit their website at Kidfresh.com. You can find a list of stores that carry this product, and print a $1 off coupon. As of February, Costco's in Texas will be selling the Kidfresh line in a Value Pack, which includes 4 meal varieties for $9.99.
(Disclaimer: I did not receive any form of compensation for writing this review, other than the product itself for sampling purposes.)
Another yummy recipe coming soon!
March 4, 2011
As I poured through her treasure trove of cookbooks, I landed on a recipe for coffee cake and was hooked. I thought, surely I would appear very grown up, baking something that you eat with COFFEE. This nectar of the "Grown Ups" was...
...Let me interrupt my story for a minute. As I sit here trying to write this post, my son is...how does a loving mother put this...MURDERING the keys to my piano. Now he is asking me, "Don't you love it?"
O.K, back to the story:)
This nectar of the Grown Ups, was exclusively reserved for those that had reached the "acceptable age." This age was an ongoing mystery to me, as each year that I asked if I was old enough, I was denied. Well surely, I thought, if I was old enough to bake a treat that was served WITH coffee, then I could drink it too. My reasoning proved to be wrong though.
As my parents enjoyed each crumb of the coffee cake (at least they appeared to - it could have been a "Mommy don't you love it?" situation), I was met with the familiar, "Not 'til your older."
It's memories like these, that come surfacing when I bake recipes from my childhood. Recipes like this Banana Split Cake. My mom used to make this regularly when we had company, as it was easy to throw together, and you could feed a large number of people with it. I don't know why it is called Banana Split Cake, because there isn't actually any cake in it, but it is still delicious. This is normally made in a 9x13 baking dish, but I decided to make individual sized portions, and served them in these cute half pint canning jars I found. Individual sized desserts are healthier anyway...aren't they?
Banana Split Cake
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 stick butter, melted
3 cups powdered sugar
8-oz package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
3-4 bananas, sliced
1 quart strawberries, sliced
1 (20-oz) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
9-oz jar maraschino cherries, drained and halved
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Combine the melted butter and graham crackers crumbs. Press into the bottom of your baking dish. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes, then place in the freezer to chill and set for about 10 minutes. Beat the cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar until creamy.
Spread the cream cheese mixture over the cooled graham cracker crust. Add a layer of sliced bananas over the cream cheese mixture. Drain the pineapple and spread evenly over the bananas. Sprinkle 1/2 a cup of nuts over the pineapple, then add a layer of sliced strawberries.
In a cold bowl, with cold beaters, whip the cream on high until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Sweeten your whipped cream to taste. Spread the whipped cream over everything. Garnish with more nuts and the cherry halves. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving. Enjoy!
Notes: If you want to make this dessert in cups as I did, follow the same directions, but divide each of the layers between your cups. When baking the crust, place the jars on a baking sheet and bake as normal.
Have a great weekend!